What Does It Mean to Be a Child of God?

June 27, 2023  - By Brittany Allen

What Does It Mean to Be a Child of God? - an article from Well-Watered Women

Black trash bags laid piled in the driveway—all my belongings, in a heap on the ground. I fought back tears as I walked inside. My unwanted presence buzzed over my head like a housefly. By sixteen, I had been tossed about from home to home, this being one of seven. No one seemed to want me.

Now, in my mid-thirties, though I’m confident that I’m loved by my closest friends and family, I still sometimes feel like that little girl cowering under the table as a police officer asked, “Do you have anyone we can call?” I watched as they restrained my mother and then heard myself say, “My dad.” But my mind wondered at their question. Did I have anyone? Could I call my dad? Would he answer? Would he want me? 

Sometimes I wonder the very same things about my heavenly Father. Do I burden him with my questions, fears, and concerns? He probably doesn’t care anyway, I think. So I don’t pray. After all, why would he? I often mess up. When I think about the sin in my past, I wonder, How could he accept me? 

If you ever feel like an orphan or like God might disown you for your sin, you’re not alone. 

If You Are in Christ, You Are a Child Of God

Many Christians operate as if they’re orphans. We forget that God is as near to us as the heart thumping under our breastbone. Fearing his knowledge of us and expecting his wrath to consume us, some seek to keep him at a distance. We believe we are saved, but believing he loves us? That doesn’t come as easily. His Word says he’s adopted us. Yet, we fear his disappointment when we fail, scared he might disown us. 

What sin of yours causes you to feel the most shame? Did you wound someone with your words or actions? Was it a sexual sin you’ve never told a soul about? Pondering these sins causes us to simmer with fear. We wonder if God looks at us in disgust. Whatever your particular sin is, if you have trusted in Jesus for salvation, God has eradicated it (Ps. 103:12). He has forgiven you, and not only that, he has declared you his child

According to Ephesians 2, we were children of wrath before God saved us. This is no longer our story. Ours is a story of new hearts and a new nature, dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11). God has moved us from being in Adam to being in Christ (Rom. 5:17–21). The Holy Spirit now dwells in us and bears witness to our adoption into God's kingdom (Rom. 8:16–17a). 

He chose us and "in love he predestined us for adoption…as sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:4–5, emphasis mine). He loves us. No matter what sins or experiences hide in the shadow of our past, disciples of Jesus are sealed by his Spirit (Eph. 1:13). We are no longer orphans but daughters of God. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:35–39).

A Child of God Has a Perfect Father

Don’t give in to the temptation to compare God to an earthly father. For some, that would make him distant or even abusive. For others, they mourn the death of their dad, feeling a crater of loss in their life. Some dads are kind yet unavailable, while others hold their children to crippling expectations. These realities cause us to ask questions about God. Can I fall out of favor with him when I mess up? Does he care when I face suffering? Will he suddenly leave me as an orphan? Is he like one of those kings with tons of children yet with care for only a select few? 

No. God is holy and unlike any earthly examples we could think up, including the best ones. He is the perfect Father. He knows us, his children, more than we know ourselves, discerning our needs, thoughts, desires, struggles, and histories. Nothing about us is a mystery to our Creator (Ps. 139). And yet, he loves us overwhelmingly more than our minds could ever grasp. God’s love for us surpasses all knowledge (Eph. 3:19). Nothing you or I could do will ever deter God’s steadfast love. He is unchanging (James 1:17; Heb. 13:8). He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5b).

In his kindness, he adopted us, and that would be more than enough grace for a lifetime. But he doesn’t stop at adopting us. He also makes us heirs and, in doing so, blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 

A Child of God Has a Great Inheritance

We no longer walk this world as orphans; we’ve been adopted and now share in the inheritance of the Son. Can you imagine? Do you believe it yet?

In the first chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul lists the spiritual blessings our inheritance entails. If you are in Christ, you are:

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of all we have in Christ. God has been richly merciful to us, reaching down and saving us by his grace through faith (Eph. 2:4–5). Why? “Because of the great love with which he loved us” (v. 4). 

God’s love is greater than our sin. By the work of Jesus Christ, we are his children. He is our merciful, gracious, and loving Father. If you are a child of God, you are secure. You have an ever-present Father to whom you can (and should) run to as often as you need. You are carried, sustained, blessed, cared for, encouraged, and comforted as you walk through this life. To be a child of God is to be deeply and unfathomably loved. 

If you feel like an orphan today, listen to Jesus’ words to you: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). Fearful saint, you are no longer an orphan. You are a child of God.

What Does It Mean to Be a Child of God? – an article from Well-Watered Women - quote

Meet the Author

Brittany is a follower of Christ, wife to James, and mama to Theodore, William, and three babies lost through miscarriage. She longs to encourage women to think and live biblically, making Christ their ultimate Treasure. You can find more of her writing at brittleeallen.com or follow her on Instagram @brittanyleeallen.

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